we left with our hands unfurled
in separate pockets, our
fingers strained against the denim.
we had separate plans on how to
get this done.

I left Colorado;
Boulder, a place where I found
God and
      you left me here
a studio apartment with no utility bill,
on-site washer and dryer,
foothills with no rain and 0% humidity.
I left sun 300 days a year,
my rose blanket that smelled like my parent’s room,
a bunch of empty Tupperware, my umbrella
even though it’s pouring and
half of my books,
the margins, the lines I jotted
to keep myself moving.
I left my ideals about partnership,
first women I bonded to,
whispered truth and loved,
first incantation,
      my brother is dead
in the margin and you left me with this
townhouse in Kensington to fill
with borrowed stuff.

you left an abrasive echo that scratched marks in the walls and
no budget for paint, one half of the utensils,
a couple of wicker baskets for bills
and no end table to set them on.
I just want to make sure, Sarah,
you gesture to the antique armoire I mistook for a gift
that when I leave
when on our first anniversary, you
walked in my room to talk and
I mistakenly
I get all of this back.
looked you in the mouth and
spit every sentence back.

you took the bigger bottle of toothpaste.
an excessive amount of chairs,
all the curtains, the area rugs, the broom and your
glare lingered by the sofa long after you
left me here
left and you let me
keep it, sit on it, eat dried ramen
and count dollars and feel my clavicle
grow jutting out the skin
as I rationed meals.
as I watched my spending.

you took the kitten away.
you took the lighters.
you left the armoire after all.
you left me rummaging through half-burnt incense sticks for a smell
that got me through the big flood and you
took back every last card abruptly like when
you took my waist one breathy night and said you were going to
squeeze me in this bad neighborhood
right before you took me out of that soft spot, tempered,
grabbed a litter box and took
clean off.

I took myself to the welfare office to beg for my Access card
back; smacked my lips the wrong way
and snacked on servility inch by inch as I inched my way
back to “our place.”
I took out some loans,
threw away the clunky pepper spray
that women wraithed into chains
they hung from their hips
as if fear and trepidation and weaponry have
ever kept me safe.
I took my time walking home and
let the water fill my eyelids so I could see
Philadelphia differently:
better and blurred and I understand
I took it in the chest that day.
I take it in the neck today.
I took one more risk and someone told me failure is perspective
but all I see is gray, litter, plastic baggies and cops
pinching girls with latex gloves and ignoring epidemics
or data or calls from the corners and all the little
shrubs that line the block look like
workers shaking their heads at me
and I also see a
half empty apartment that is down to one cat and one
scorned tiny girl who is bitter, body dysmorphic and
hungry and has resentment, a meeting
coughed in my face and
not enough pots or ingredients to cook both
soup and stew and she is
throwing coffee grounds into a makeshift
leaky cardboard box trashcan smelling
the mold from the basement, and
our first CD is scratched and in half in a basket
with someone else’s paychecks.

I’m on a bed that lifts with one giant sigh
and no top sheet and under a pillow
(they said risk meant courage)




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